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Resume Tips: “Is my resume selling me in or selling me out?”

The most common complaint I hear from my clients as a coach is that they sent the resume into a job where they are a perfect fit, but they never even get a response. This is extremely frustrating to most professionals. And they can’t understand why. Part of that is the large number of resumes sent for every opening. The second issue is the process that a resume goes through just to get a phone call. If you don’t understand the process, it’s hard to win at that game.


















Here’s some facts:

1. For every job, hundreds of resumes are submitted.

2. Having read thousands of resumes in my career as a recruiter and as a coach, 50% of the resumes are not ready to be sent out. Another 40% are adequate and about 10% are really outstanding. In today’s world, resumes must have the right keywords to get through the applicant tracking system. Most resumes look alike.

3. It must have the right formats so that the recruiter can easily grab the information they need in 20 seconds, to move you to the, “A” pile. There are many myths and misconceptions about how to have a resume get to the top of the pile.

4. Recruiters rarely find the five best candidates, they find the first five candidates, and it’s all based on the resume. It’s also true that recruiters don’t read or review many of the resumes. A good candidate with a bad resume never gets seen while weaker candidate on a good resume gets an interview.

Applicant Tracking System Tips: When you apply to a job, every resume gets put into a computerized ATS system (applicant tracking systems). There are three obvious tips to abide by:

1. It is important to use the right keywords just like a Google search, so you are found when a recruiter does a search. Most resumes are written in the past, emphasizing verbs instead of keywords. Using the right keywords and many of them is very helpful in getting you to the top of the electronic pile.

2. Sometimes I’ll see resumes with the contact information – the name, address, etc. in the header or the footer of the document. This is a big mistake. Since many or most applicant tracking systems will not read the headers and therefore not populate the basic contact information correctly. In some cases, it will be fixed by the company. But most cases probably ignored. Even more interesting is if you follow up on it and the name was not correctly extracted, they may not even find you in the system.

3. Always attach a resume. Besides pasting it in. That way, your formatting can hold. The safest document to submit, is a .doc file since it is universally accepted. Most systems can accept others better to be safe than sorry.

What is the purpose of your resume? If you ask coaches and most professionals, what’s the purpose of a resume. They will say – to get you an interview. But that’s a very shallow answer if you consider today’s job search process where a resume has many more purposes than this:

1. A resume must be found in the applicant tracking system.

2. A recruiter must like the resume as a fit within 20 seconds so that it goes in the “A” pile.

3. The resume must “out compete” the other resumes to become a finalist for the interview process. Being qualified is not enough, since 80 percent of the screening is done by the resume alone.

4. Secondary review of the resumes by manager may also be involved.

5. The resumes the basis for the phone screen interview by the recruiter.

6. The resume is the agenda for all in person interviews. It has to win over the hiring manager, other managers, peers, and executives, all of whom have different agendas.

7. The résumé has to sell when you leave the building. In today’s interview processes, over weeks of time, you are forgotten in the midst of the process. The resume ends up playing a vital part in second and third interviews and in the final decisions. The process is consensus based.

8. When an offer is to be extended by the HR manager, the quality of the resume can determine what part of the range they will consider.

So you see the resumes is a very complicated document, a selling document and it better be selling you all through the process.

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